Monday, January 28, 2013

Busters Restaurant

Busters Restaurant
1396 East State Street
Eagle, ID 83616
(208) 938-1800
Definitely interested in drawing the sports viewing crowd (lots of banners about the games, plenty of TVs), but mostly setup as a sit-down restaurant with not as much bar space or bar tables as one might expect.

The prime rib (available Fri and Sat) was very tender, served rare (as requested), and relatively good overall.  The accompanying horseradish cream had a decent kick, and the jus was well seasoned.  The fries were nicely crunchy, and the fry sauce better than average, but the side salad was very disappointing (something out of a '70s diner, with an overly acidic Italian dressing).

The chicken taco salad (hold the sour cream) was passable, but the salsa was another weak spot.

The 3 Picket Porter from Crooked Fence brewing needed just more body and depth to be a real winner (and to merit the "porter" label).

The restaurant was packed on Friday night, with most of the crowd dining (not just there to watch bowl games).

Burger 'n Brew

Burger 'n Brew
4295 West State Street 
Boise, ID 83703
(208) 345-7700
Dive bar plus diner. Large selection of beers on tap (24 at last count, many local).  The beer sizes could use a little update - the choices are 12 or 20 oz.  The 20 oz is served up in a weighty schooner glass, which makes the whole thing rather unwieldy.  A pint glass (American or Imperial) would be a welcome addition to the choices (or replacement for the schooner).

The menu has an interesting variety of burgers, some of which are upsized just like the beers.  Decided to go with a traditional Reuben instead, which turned out to be a disappointing choice.  It was somewhat greasy and didn't have much flavor.  The fries were a little soft and undercooked.

Overall underwhelming, but a burger and a 12oz beer would probably have been a totally different experience ...

Noodles & Company

Noodles & Company
2274 N. Eagle Rd., Suite 100
Meridian, ID 83646
Chain of >100 "fast casual" restaurants specializing in noodle dishes with international influences ("American", "Asian", "Mediterranean").  For a rapidly-growing chain, the food is relatively decent.  The Indonesian Peanut Saute is spicy (more than one would expect from a chain) but without being over the top.  The roast pork (a recent addition to the meat selections on the menu) was tasty and tender, but the flavor didn't really mesh with the Indonesian dish.  It would likely be better with the American-themed dishes.  The noodles were somewhat gluey on our to-go order, but that might be a result of the 20 minutes or so between picking up the order and actually eating it.  Eating in is likely to be a better option.
The soup choices (chicken noodle, Thai curry, tomato basil) seem rather limited and uncreative for a noodle house.  Would be nice to see an Asian-inspired noodle soup on the menu.

Red Feather Lounge

Red Feather Lounge
246 N. 8th Street
Boise, ID 83702

Half of the Bittercreek Alehouse/Red Feather Lounge group, serving "seasonal American cuisine" and focusing on very local ingredients as much as possible.  The menu changes frequently based on availability of ingredients.

The seared pork belly was, as pork belly usually is, quite tasty but the Asian-style broth it was served in was too vinegary throwing the entire dish somewhat out of balance.

The Kale Caesar is an interesting twist on a classic. Fire-roasting the kale is a fantastic idea, adding great roasted flavor and keeping the kale crunchy while still breaking it down enough to not be excessively chewy.  The Ceasar dressing had enough tang and just enough creaminess to mesh well with the kale.

The smoked trout had just a very light smoke flavor, which didn't overpower the trout itself.

Somewhat disappointing was the roasted root vegetables, mainly because the mix was far too low on the more interesting root vegetables (parsnip, turnip, etc), and ended up being mostly potatoes, carrots, and some kale (which would have been ok if it wasn't being compared to the Caesar).

The Fraser Couloir Cuvee was a solid, well-balanced red blend that fit the menu nicely.

Taphouse Pub and Eatery

Taphouse Pub and Eatery

760 W. Main Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
(208) 336-6991

A tasty pub centrally located in downtown Boise, with a large selection (40+) of beers on tap including many local and regional choices.

The pulled pork sandwich was very tender with only a hint of smoky flavor and a nicely tangy BBQ sauce.  The Rosemary fries were nicely cooked, but the seasoning could have been more evenly distributed - some bites had virtually no salt or rosemary, others were highly seasoned, and the seasoning definitely was not sticking very well (perhaps salted a little to late after coming out of the fryer?).

The Tin Shed turkey (with bacon, maple aioli, and roasted apples) included a generous serving of real roasted turkey (not processed/deli slices).  The maple aioli does a great job of tying the bacon, turkey and apple flavors together.

Tea Leaves N Coffee Beans

Tea Leaves N Coffee Beans
121 S. Main Street
Cascade, ID

Vintage tea house meets internet cafe, with a healthy dash of eclectisism thrown in, right on Main St/Hwy 55 in downtown Cascade.  Seems to be fairly active in local community events if the Take-A-Look calendar from the Alpha Grange is any indication.

The regular coffee is individually brewed cups of Doma coffee.  The coffee is very tasty but unfortunately mine was only lukewarm - hopefully this isn't a recurring problem.  Will have to try again next time passing through town.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fraser Vineyard Couloir Cuvée

2010 Snake River Valley
70% Syrah/30% Cabernet

Nice dark red color with slight browning. Blueberry, blackberry, toffee flavors, just a little oak.  The syrah definitely comes through.  Could use a little more time to smooth out.  Definitely a nice example of Idaho wines.